In order to fully appreciate this next creation, we’re going to have to define a couple of terms. The first is chibi. That’s a Japanese slang term that describes an art style where characters are drawn as small, chubby figures with exaggerated features. The second is Sisyphus. In Greek mythology, he was a king who was punished by the gods for his wicked ways. He is forced to push a giant boulder up an even bigger hill, only to have it roll back down every time it nears the top. At first glance, these two terms don’t seem to have a lot do to with each other. Leave it to Sheo to unify them into a really cute image of eternal torture. In this version, Sisyphus doesn’t have a boulder to push; instead, his over-sized chibi head is the enormous weight that has to be moved upwards.
Creative use of various arches and curved slopes creates an anguished, yet adorable, visage. The use of a curved brick for the leg gives a great sense of that upward pushing. I also like the detail of the 2×2 round tile for his belly, and let’s not ignore the build of the mountain either. The rocks are built out in all directions, with a combination of slopes, plates, and tiles giving some lively texture to the backdrop.
Builder Cindy Su invites us to find out more about Chinese myths with this wonderful little figural model of Zhongli Quan. Chinese mythology is rife with humans turned immortal, but perhaps the most famous among these is The 8 Immortals. Dating back to the Jin dynasty in the 12th and 13th centuries, the 8 mystical figures are part of the Taoist pantheon. They have been a subject of Chinese art and mythologies for centuries and are still popular today.
The subject of this particular build is Zhongli Quan. He is pictured here carrying his traditional large fan, imbued with the power to turn rocks into precious gold or silver and even resurrect the dead. The sculpting of his body shows off his rotund shape and the use of satellite dishes is perfect for his exposed chest and belly. His hairstyle, utilizing round balls gives the whole thing some wonderful shapes and texture. The hot dog buns as his ears is a particularly clever use of parts.
On her Flickr page, Cindy notes this figure as 1 of 8. I look forward to seeing her depictions of the other 7 immortals and their journey across the East Sea.
If you want to get the god of the underworld to do you a favor, you had best rosin up your bow and get ready to fiddle for your soul. Oh wait, wrong story. Music is still the key, though, and I’d wager a fiddle made of gold that the Ancient Greek hero Orpheus could even beat Johnny from Georgia; at very least he played his lyre so beautifully that it moved the cold heart of Hades to compassion, granting him his desire to take the shade of his beloved wife Eurydice back to the surface (with some provisos, admittedly). Simon NH has built the scene of the hero before the god, and it captures the feeling of the underworld perfectly.
The god is fittingly large in relation to the mortal, and his face is cold and foreboding. His crown is made from sais is nice and spiky, and chains hanging everywhere give it all the feel of a dungeon. My favorite bits are the green flames made from jagged-edged swords, just for the splash of color it gives to an otherwise dreary-toned build. But what really sets this build apart is the dramatic lighting. Everything is in shadows except the figures and the bit of path separating them, setting the stage for the dramatic performance of Orpheus. Despite being, in my mind, the Hawkeye of the Greek heroes (Jason: “What’s your superpower?” Orpheus: “I play the lyre.”), Orpheus ends up being one of the most impressive of them all.
Recently I wrote an article that mentioned there are a few names that spring to mind when considering LEGO-built characters. Another one of these prolific builders is Anthony Wilson. His newest creation is Aquasaurus, an impeccable display of form and function working so well together, that it hurts my head.
His incredible use of colour is always refreshing to see. This build harks back to the colour palate exclusively used for the Arctic City and Town sets, which I have always enjoyed. Relatedly, one thing that separates this from the pack, are those excellent gill fins, set in the ever-elusive teal. Though not made of many pieces in this elegant creature, the contrast it creates is brilliant. In a creation of such scale, articulation can also be a challenge to hide and keep functional. Wilsons subtle use of colour specific Bionicle parts, achieves this flawlessly, giving the limbs of this creature an exceptional pose. I find myself wondering how much this beast would weigh, as his use of balance on that black pillar is great, leaving only a tiny footprint of a base below.
For another look at Anthony Wilson’s beautiful use of colour, check out his Western Woods.
In Japanese mythology, the giant catfish Namazu lives in the mud under the islands of Japan. When this creature thrashes, violent earthquakes result. Not a good thing, but that hasn’t stopped Japan from embracing Namazu as a mascot of sorts for earthquakes. Catfish are a common image on earthquake-related signs, and even appear on the Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) logo. And, as you might expect from a monster-turned-mascot, sometimes those catfish images are just adorable. Case in point: [Jack Frost] has built a LEGO version of Namazu that will melt your heart, even as it shakes your world.
There are a lot of fun aspects to this build. Although a couple of studs can be spotted, the majority of the body is sculpted in smooth black elements including Hero Factory armor. Meanwhile, the flame colors in the Legend of Chima energy effects used as fins invoke the destructive aspects of earthquakes. But the large and expressive eyes and charming smile somehow try and make that seem like not a big deal.
Somehow, though, I think we should probably just be terrified.
The 2019 Bionicle-building challenge Biocup is on and LEGO Bionicle enthusiast chubbybots has jumped into the ring swinging. The first round’s theme is scary monsters, which I definitely think this wendigo fits into. Intimidation and furious brutality are the words that spring to mind. The Hero Factory Hand Armor as the top of its head was an excellent choice that brings those stark white teeth to the foreground on that monstrous underbite. Those rubber tyres on the arms and ankles remind me of the tufts of hair on a minotaur. I wonder it played some role as a muse while chubbybots started to piece this guy together? My favourite piece use on this terrifying vision would have to be a tie between the four eyes made from small red lever bases and the shadow trap, creating what looks like the end of a gnarly set of gauntlets.
Be sure to stop by and check out some of the other contenders in this year’s Biocup!
There are no limits when it comes to the fantastical creations that can be created from the wide range of LEGO elements. A recent favourite of mine is Jayfa’s model of Rygas the Basilisk. The colour palette is visually striking, and the part selection is outstanding. While it might seem obvious to use a 4×7 wing piece on a bird, it’s rather ingenious to use it as the side of the belly rather that actually on the wing! When it comes to plumage being recreated, other techniques include the connection of a dinosaur tail piece to a small horn and the cacophonic positioning of Hero Factory flame elements.
However, my absolute favourite aspect of this creation is its posture, especially the feet. Not satisfied to duplicate a single design of a foot, Jayfa has designed two separate positions for the feet in a way that really brings the beast to life. It’s not just standing there, but what is it doing? Is it dancing or ready to pounce? Couple that with the look on its face, and I think anyone challenging this monster is in for a bad time.
This latest LEGO creation by master builder Aaron Newman is the stuff of nightmares for those who enjoy perfectly manicured lawns and neatly tended gardens. If that is you, stock up on a few 50-gallon drums of your preferred herbicide, or else dial your lawn service’s emergency line immediately! Inspired by the manticore of classical mythology, Aaron’s “planticore” is part flower, part root, part weed, and fully territorial. Stay away from the dandelion head that’s reminiscent of the lion that formed part of the manticore, as well as the many blooms at the tail that effectively evoke the scorpion stinger. The aggressively-posed beast is joined by a swarm of brick-built bees and fierce female faeries to ruin your country club’s casual croquet tournament.
Aaron is well-known in the LEGO community for both his creature builds and his dynamic minifigure poses, and he does not disappoint in either category here. I am personally quite partial to the various Elves hairpieces on his faeries, and the way he uses legs taken off of the hips for more natural stances takes them to the next level. Don’t miss the pink afro minidoll hair as a clever clover blossom, either. The croquet wicket, with the DUPLO ball on its way through, sets the small scale of the build beautifully, and the editing effects with the grass and sky lend it a wonderful outdoor atmosphere. I suspect that I have several stray planticores roaming about in my own yard, judging by the weeds and chaos I see out there; or maybe I am just too busy trying to build LEGO like Aaron to prune and mow…
Out beyond the stars there’s a world of terror, and sometimes it comes closer than you might wish, especially if you live in a Lovecraftian tale. Among the worst terrors of that place is the legendary Cthulhu, imagined in LEGO form by Hongjun Youn. A multitude of Bionicle Kalmah masks gives the perfect tentacled element for otherworldly shaping for the head and torso, while Dino tails fill in for the larger tentacles.
With its uncannily flowing shape, it’s no small wonder losing one’s sanity was the most common reaction to the dread horror.
According to Chinese lore, the Nian beast emerges each New Year’s to prey on the world of men, thwarted only by its fear of the color red. This was among the origins for that color’s prevalence in Chinese New Year’s celebrations, which this year falls on Feb. 5. This magnificent LEGO Nian by TBB-regular Jonas Kramm shows the creature in all its splendid glory, ready to wander the countryside in search of unfortunate humans to feed upon after its winter slumber. Everything about this model looks polished, but the tiny detail that struck me was the perfect manner in which the Bionicle ball sockets are integrated into the head to hold the teal eyes.
In Norse mythology, the god Oden is accompanied by two ravens; one named Hugin and the other named Munin. Respectively, their names mean “thought” and “memory,” and as legend goes, they fly the world by day and return to Oden at night to tell what they learn. This beautiful LEGO representation of Hugin is the work of builder Birgitte Jonsgard. It is one of the best brick-built birds I have ever seen. She did a truly lovely job on the body-shaping, and yes, his wings do unfold!
Also check out Birgitte’s still life art in LEGO form!
Tengu are legendary creatures in Japanese myths going back hundreds of years. Although they have a complicated history, they’re most often seen today as protectors of mountains and forests, though still certainly fearsome! John Cheng has built a rather adorable Tengu, dressed in Yamabushi (mountain hermit) garb with black bird wings and an enormous, beak-like nose that reveal his avian origins.